A health care advance directive is a tool that you can use for health care decisions when you cannot speak for yourself. Such directives include the living will and health care power of attorney, which are written notices that you have made concerning future health care wishes. 

What Is the Patient Self-Determination Act?

The Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) is a federal law pertaining to hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). Health care institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement must routinely provide information on advance directives when a patient is admitted.

What Is Required Under the PSDA?

The PSDA requires health care institutions to do four things: 

  • When you are admitted to a health care institution, the institution must give you a written summary of:
    • Its policies on the recognition of advance directives
    • The rights that you have concerning your health care decision-making
  • The health care institution must ask if you have a directive and must record your answer in your medical record
  • The institution must educate its staff and the community about such directives
  • The institution must not discriminate against patients on the basis of whether they have an advance directive

Do I Need a Lawyer for My PSDA Issue?

An experienced healthcare lawyer can inform you of your rights under the PSDA and would recognize a violation of the law. A lawyer can also inform you of your options with regard to advance directives.